Caramelized eggplant and tomato tartare

A lukewarm semi-fresh, semi-fried summer starter dish.

Ingredients

Serves 4. 45 minutes.

  • 1 eggplant
  • 300 g of tomatoes at room temperature, see notes
  • handful of chopped basil and a few whole basil leafs
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • good (aged, slightly sweet) balsamic vinegar
  • salt and black pepper

Recipe

  1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Cut the

    • 1 eggplant

    crosswise in 1-2 cm thick slices. No need to salt and drain. See note.

  3. Put a

    • few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

    into the hot pan and add the eggplant. Regularly shake the pan and turn the eggplants until they turn dark brown. If the pan becomes dry, add more olive oil 😁. This is a slow process. Be patient; it takes about 15 minutes. Adjust the heat if the browning goes much faster or slower.

  4. Meanwhile cut the

    • 300 g tomatoes

    in half, remove (and eat directly or discard) most of the watery seeds. This step is important to prevent the tartare from falling apart when served. Then cut the tomato into 1 cm cubes and add to a large bowl.

  5. Once the eggplants have taken on a nice brown color, remove them from the pan and put them on some paper towels. The paper towels will extract some of the excess oil. Salt the eggplants.
  6. Cut most of the

    • handful of basil

    into small pieces and add it to the bowl with tomatoes.

  7. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut into 1 cm cubes and add to the bowl with tomatoes.

  8. Add
    • one/two teaspoons balsamic vinegar

    and season to taste with salt and pepper. The mixture should start to taste slightly sweeter.

  9. Use a cooking ring if you have one to place the tartare mixture onto a plate. Otherwise you can try to sculp it or use a flat bottomed bowl. Results may vary 😅.

  10. Drizzle with some

    • balsamic vinegar
    • extra-virgin olive oil

    and decorate with a few

    • whole basil leaves.
  11. Serve immediately to prevent the lukewarm tartare from cooling down.

Notes

  • I believe salting eggplants is not necessary anymore. After some testing I couldn’t taste the difference between a salted and an unsalted batch. Salting is a practice which probably was necessary in the past. However, in the mean time the bitterness has been reduced due to selective breeding. Very similar what happened to Brussels sprouts. So save yourselves the hassle and skip this step!
  • This dish works best if made in summer when tomatoes are at their best.
  • Make sure the tomatoes are at room temperature. Our tongue becomes less sensitive when things are cold, so the tomatoes can taste blander.
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